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Sep 12, 2008 05:47 PM

Good Eats near G Hotel in Penang

First time to Penang. What are must-eat close to G hotel in Penang? Anything good in the closeby shopping mall?

What foods or snacks should I bring back to Hong Kong? Thanks.

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  1. Personally, I don't think there's anything worth eating in Gurney Plaza which is next door to G Hotel - they mainly consisted of casual bistros (Manila Place - which doesn't really serve Filipino food; Dome Cafe, etc) & fast food outlets (Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, McDonalds, A&W, 1901 Hot Dog). But if you must eat there, try Pastasia - which serves some amazing fusion Thai-Italian pasta dishes, e.g. spaghetti with green chicken curry, etc. Or you can try Laksa Shack for its wide selection of spicy noodles and The Chicken Rice Shop for its Hainanese chicken rice. Kim Gary on the 3rd floor serves HK-style "cha chan teng" dishes which, if you're from HK, not something you'd look for.

    In fact, the only place a Chowhound would want to eat near G Hotel is located in the hotel itself: the twin restaurants Sesame & Soy serve very good modern-Chinese cuisine. Singaporean foodblogger, Aun Koh aka Chubby Hubby & his wife were consultants in designing these restaurants' concept & menu offerings.

    Penang is famous for its hawker food, so you should try and explore Gurney Drive, the beautiful promenade in front of the G Hotel. In the old days, hawker stalls lined the promenade in the evenings, but the Penang Govt had since moved all of them off the streets (Singapore-style) into a large open-food square just about 5-10 minutes' walk from G Hotel (in front of Sunrise Tower). Some Penang fare which is very popular amongst tourists (especially those of us from Singapore) are the Penang laksa (rice noodles in sourish tamarind/fish paste soup, garnished with shredded cucumber & pineapple), Penang fried koay teow (fried rice noodles with eggs, Chinese sausages, shrimps & cockles), Penang rojak (a pungent fruit salad tossed with fish paste), etc.

    If you walk down Gurney Drive towards Evergreen Laurel Hotel, you'll come across a couple of "bah kut teh" shops which do brisk business in the mornings selling rich pork-rib soups served in claypots. They are delicious!

    Off Gurney Drive is also a very authentic Vietnamese restaurant, Com Viet (ask your hotel concierge). The chefs are from Hanoi, so the fare is typically North Vietnamese - lighter & less sweet/spicy.

    Check out this Penang food blogger for typical Penang eats:

    You should try and visit the Pulau Tikus market in the early mornings if you have the chance. Aboyt 10 minutes' drive from G Hotel, you can find traditional Penang Nyonya cakes/puddings there. The coffee shops sell really good Penang-Chinese breakfast dishes: noodles, steamed dumplings/dim sum, plus Indian pancakes, Malay curries with coconut-scented rice (nasi lemak), etc.

    Some favorite food stuffs which visitors to Penang like to buy includes "tau sar piah" (mung bean cakes, somewhat akin to HK "lou poh peng"). The oldest bakery is Ghee Hiang, which is about 160 years old & still churns out its mung bean cakes according to the original recipe.

    If you visit Penang Road (in the city's old quarter), try and lunch at Kek Seng Coffeeshop. It's been operating there since 1895! Had great Mee Jawa (noodles in tomatoey gravy), koay teow noodles in soup, loh bak (meat/prawn fritters), etc.

    Penang's labyrinth of old streets (Campbell Street, Chulia Street, etc) are home to many old & revered eateries & food places, e.g. Hameediyah Indian restaurant which has been operating for over a hundred years in Campbell Street. Great murtabak - meat-filled Indian pancakes.

    7 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      Thanks so much for all the useful information.

      I will definitely try out the restaurant at the hotel. Also Gurney Drive hawker. Plan to eat laksa and all the items you suggested. Read there is a stand that sells squid which is good. Was told not to miss the satay skewers.

      Is the Gurney Plaza a big shopping mall?

      Definitely plan on trying pork rib soup for breakfast as locals do.

      1. re: caitlink

        Yes, Gurney Plaza is a huge 6-7 storey high shopping mall, with loads of eateries & at least a couple of food courts. There's a Food Loft on one of the upper floors - very similar to the Food Loft I found in Bangkok's Central Chidlom, but here you get Penang-Chinese, Japanese, Western-style dishes.

        The squid dish you mentioned is more like cuttlefish. It's been par-boiled & soft/squiggly. In Penang, they cut the cuttlefish into strips, toss them with crisp green water-spinach, a sweet beanpaste & a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds. The locals call it "joo hoo eng chye". I'd stick with Penang fried koay teow - my favorite dish when I visit the place.

        Attached are photos of the Penang fried koay teow (flat rice noodles, pan-fried with shrimps, sausages, eggs, beansprouts & chives with chilli paste/soy sauce) I had during my visit there last August, and also Gurney Plaza at the bottom-right of the 2nd picture (G Hotel's to the left of it in the photo).

        1. re: klyeoh

          Thanks for your advice. penang food is great.

          I went to Gurney Hawker and my favorite was grilled fish and stirfry cockle (?). Also had some sort of starfish snail that was quite tasty.

          I followed your advice and went towards Evergreen hotel and tried out Pork Rib Soup at Carnation cafe. It was very tasty. At Song River Cafe, had the BBQ chicken wings which were also delicious.

          My friend ended up taking me to a place downtown which is famous for fried koay teow. Usually do not like stirfry - too greasy but this was the best pasta I had in a long time. Also loved curry mee and hokkien mee. Cannot believe how cheap and delicious everything was. Now I know why everyone says Penang is a great city for food.


          1. re: caitlink

            Glad you enjoyed your Penang sojourn, caitlink. Many Singaporeans like myself make food "pilgrimages" to Penang all the time (it's only an hour's flight away), to seek out hawker foods that we used to have in Singapore in the 1960s/70s but have sort of disappeared. But purveyors of such foods still thrive in the streets of Penang, and the prices (like you've said) are incredibly cheap.

            I'm sure the famous fried koay teow which you had in downtown Penang is either the Lorong Selamat fried koay teow (the woman-chef wears a huge red chef's hat & pair of over-sized plastic goggles) or the Two Sisters fried koay teow in MacAlister Road. I liked both places - the former for the huge, HUGE fresh prawns used, and the latter for their use of duck's eggs (which tasted richer than hen's eggs) & the sprinkling of fresh crabmeat on their fried noodle dish.

            1. re: klyeoh

              It was the first one - I knowof two sisters but they were closed when i went. A co-worker took me to the first one. Which I was told is the most 'expensive' one with the big prawns. For $6 MYR, it was a steal and very tasty.
              Also brought back shrimp paste, belachan, a special curry mee paste and A1 pork rib soup mix. Looking forward to using everything at home.

              1. re: caitlink

                Wow reading this thread almost brought tears to my eyes. I miss Penang so so so much. When I started (reading) I wanted to recommend the Balihai seafood (right on Gurney drive), with tanks after tanks of giant shrimps after giant crabs. Then I realized that you are from Hong Kong, that sight probably won't be as amazing to you as to me ... sigh ...
                I prefer Bak Kuh Teh in Penang than in Singapore. I.e. I prefer the Hokkien style to the Teowchow style. Laksa Shack is also a small numbers of chains I actually like. I have never been a big Laksa fan but this is the only place that make me crave laksa as if it was shark fins :-).
                Staring at calendar dreaming about vacations now.

                1. re: shengtang

                  I did end up going to Balihai seafood one night all by myself. Ordered the 'big head' shrimp fried in salty egg yolk which was delicious. Stirfry cockle. And another plate of clams.

                  That was right after I had the fried koay teow and chicken wings for dinner earlier. I was so stuffed but satisfied. I was running out of time but wanted to try as many things as possible.